Then Aulus Posthumius Albus and Spurius Furius Fusus were consuls. Furii some writers have written Fusii; this I mention, lest any one may imagine that the change, which is only in the names, may be in the persons themselves.
There was no doubt but that one of the consuls would commence hostilities against the Aequans. The Aequans accordingly sought aid from the Volscians of Ecetra; which being granted readily, (so keenly did these states vie in inveterate hatred against the Romans,) preparations for war were made with the utmost vigour.
The Hernicians came to the knowledge of it, and warned the Romans that the Ecetrans had revolted to the Aequans; the colony of Antium also was suspected, because when the town was taken, a great number of the inhabitants had fled thence for refuge to the Aequans: and these proved the bravest soldiers during the war with the Aequans.
Afterwards the Aequans being driven into the towns, this rabble withdrawing privately, when they returned to Antium, seduced from the Romans the colonists who were already disposed to treachery of their own accord.
The matter not being yet ripe, when it was announced to the senate that a defection was intended, the consuls were charged to inquire into the business by summoning to Rome the leading men of the colony.
When those persons attended without reluctance, being conducted to the senate by the consuls, they so answered to the questions put to them, that they were dismissed more suspected than they had come. Upon this war was considered as inevitable.
Spurius Fusius, one of the consuls to whom that province had fallen, having marched against the Aequans, found the enemy committing depredations in the country of the Hernicians; and being ignorant of their numbers, because they had never been seen all together, he rashly hazarded an engagement with an army not a match for their forces.
Being beaten from his ground at the first onset, he betook himself to his camp: nor was that an end of the danger: for both on the next night and the following day, his camp was beset and assaulted with such vigour, that not even a messenger could be sent from thence to Rome.
The Hernicians brought an account both that a defeat had taken place, and that the army was besieged: and they struck such terror into the senate, that a charge was given to the other consul Posthumius, that he should “take care that the common- [p. 163]
wealth sustained no injury,”1
which form of a decree has ever been deemed to be one of extreme exigency. It seemed most advisable that the consul himself should remain at Rome to enlist all who were able to bear arms: that Titus Quintius should be sent as pro-consul2
to the relief of the camp with the army of the allies:
to complete that army the Latins and Hernicians, and the colony of Antium, were ordered to supply Quintius with subitary soldiers (so they then called auxiliaries raised for sudden emergencies).